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Google thinks science and data are key in advancing racial justice — and it's putting up millions of dollars to prove it. 

The tech giant's philanthropic arm, Google.org, is pledging $11.5 million to U.S. organizations dedicated to racial justice and criminal justice reform. The grants will be distributed over the next three years to 10 different nonprofits and initiatives, all working toward racial equality and equity in innovative ways.

The new commitment marks the latest effort in this space from Google.org, which has provided $5 million in grants to racial justice innovators since 2015. Past recipients include Black Lives Matter cofounder Patrisse Cullors and the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative.

"I help identify causes and organizations that aim to ultimately help correct many of these injustices."

Justin Steele, principal at Google.org, announced the news in a blog post Thursday, beginning with his personal attachment to the cause. He said all the black men in his family have worked in some form of law enforcement, including his grandfather, a Port of Seattle police officer, and his father, a detention chief in Snohomish County, Washington. He's seen firsthand how police can be a force for good in communities.

"But I've also borne witness to injustices that have shaken my faith in our criminal justice system," Steele wrote. "In my work at Google.org, I help identify causes and organizations that aim to ultimately help correct many of these injustices."

As a result, the $11.5 million will support organizations at the forefront of criminal justice reform, helping them develop concrete, systemic solutions that can curb mass incarceration and prevent police brutality against unarmed people of color.

Google.org will commit the lion's share — $5 million — to the Center for Policing Equity (CPE), a research and action thinktank based in New York. CPE partners with police departments and communities across the country, using data science to track racial disparities in law enforcement in major cities. It also offers trainings and provides guidance for policy reform.

"It’s nothing short of a financial miracle in terms of what it allows us to do."

The grant will primarily support CPE's National Justice Database, which tracks national statistics on police behavior, including stops and use of force, and aims to standardize data collection across the U.S. 

Steele said Google engineers will also volunteer their time to help build and improve the platform.

"Google's deep investment will help us think bigger and bolder about how to make policing more democratic and more American," Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff, president and cofounder of CPE, said in a statement. "It's nothing short of a financial miracle in terms of what it allows us to do."

An additional $1.5 million will benefit Measures for Justice, which will launch a web platform this year that gathers criminal justice data at the county level. The data portal will rate a given justice system's performance based on public safety, fair process and fiscal responsibility. It's an effort to increase transparency and empower people with the knowledge of how local law enforcement treats their neighbors. 

Google.org will also give $1 million to Impact Justice for its national Restorative Justice Project to keep 1,900 young people, primarily youth of color, out of the juvenile justice system. Furthering efforts to help youth, $500,000 will go to the W. Haywood Burns Institute, which makes sure data is available on treatment of youth of color in California's juvenile justice system.

A $650,000 grant will go to JustLeadershipUSA, a noteworthy organization that trains formerly incarcerated leaders to lead reform efforts, and $250,000 will go to #Cut50, which aims to use VR to create empathy and reduce the number of people in prisons and jails by 50 percent. Lastly, Google.org is reinvesting in organizations it previously supported, including Defy VenturesCenter for Employment OpportunitiesSilicon Valley De-Bug, and Code for America.

"We believe that these 10 organizations can create meaningful change around racial, social and criminal justice in the U.S., and we hope that our grants will provide resources and support to bring about this much-needed change," Steele said.

The United States has the largest prison population and the fastest rate of incarceration in the world. People of color are disproportionately affected — black men, for example, are sentenced at more than five times the rate of white men. Meanwhile, videos surfacing online have increased awareness of police brutality and shootings of unarmed black people around the U.S.

Steele said we have almost no data on police behavior and criminal sentencing at the national level, due mostly to local reporting and no standard way to compare jurisdictions. These organizations can help fill that gap.

"A person's race should not determine how they are treated by the law," Steele wrote Thursday. "We're proud to support these organizations, and we hope that their focus on data and community-driven solutions to will bring us closer to a more just society."

See full article here: http://mashable.com/2017/02/23/google-racial-justice-commitment/#p7mrv0KVLkqn

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